Thursday, 17 October 2013
Another programme broadcast by BBC4 was called "Synth Britannia" which traced the rise of synth based pop in the early 1980's. The show focused on bands such as New Order, Depeche Mode, Ultravox and Gary Numan & Tubeway Army (pictured above). Whilst I like some of the music these bands produced, I am still too much of a guitar head and I would never really absorb myself in this world of music. Looking back I am delighted that the drum machine didn't kill off real drums, and the synth didn't finish off the guitar despite bold predictions that they would at the time.
BBC4 recently broadcast a fantastic documentary about Otis Redding featuring interviews with his widow and children, former band mates and management team and fans such as Sir Tom Jones. It featured some great archive footage of Otis in his prime and what stands out for me was his incredible voice and passionate vocal delivery. His death in a plane crash aged just 26 was a tragic loss to the music world and it's such a shame that he was lost at such a young age. His legacy however is a body of great songs and I am glad that I have been able to enjoy his music many years after his death.
I have recently revisited the album due to being laid up with a sickness bug this week. BBC4 broadcast a documentary on the making of the original "Tubular Bells" album last week, which I viewed on BBC IPlayer this week. Whilst most of the programme focused on side one of the original LP, it was great to hear how the story of how the album developed into what is now regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time. Featuring additional interviews with his siblings Sally and Terry, producer Tom Newman and Virgin Records founder Richard Branson, the programme also charted Oldfield's musical development from session work and also of his time working in bands with Kevin Ayers and his sister Sally Oldfield. Mike Oldfield also played sections of his work on screen during his interviews with excerpts played on keyboards, guitar and bass which as a musician myself I found really interesting. I have been trying to work out the guitar parts recently and I have two parts nearly nailed. I have always wanted to be a better guitarist and to be able to have a greater understanding of music. I often have a lot of tunes in my head, but at the moment I don't possess the technical knowledge of the mechanics of music to be able to turn them into anything yet. I am hoping to start learning music theory so that I can finally overcome the musical frustration I feel when it comes to composition.
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
During the course of visiting the show we enjoyed some excellent model layouts and one Welsh layout included the above owners wagon which I enjoyed seeing due to my family connections with Merthyr Tydfil. One thing that I have observed following the advent of digital technology is also the fact that layouts are becoming more realistic and lifelike. The above one was based on the South Wales valleys lines that were once home to passenger and coal trains many years ago.
One of my favourite layouts was based on the type of engine sheds that were once prevalent across the UK during the age of steam, but which disappeared following the end of steam traction in the late 1960's. Modelled in O Gauge, it must have cost this model club an absolute fortune to build, but this is a very realistic layout including engines with authentic sound effects. I would have liked to include a small film clip for you to enjoy, but I can't get it to work so I will save this for a future post.
A couple of years ago my lovely lady and I discovered the beauty of Brandon Hill in Bristol. It is a small park area which gives great views over the city and it also includes the historic building known as Cabot Tower (pictured left). Named after the Italian explorer John Cabot (or Giovanni Cabuto which was his real name) it stands at least 100 feet tall and gives great panoramic views over Bristol such as the one that I captured above. I have always held the ambition of one day visiting this building and climbing the tower all the way to the top. The last time that we had visited it, the building was closed and boarded up prior to its complete restoration. Thankfully its restoration has been successfully completed and one sunny (if windy) Sunday evening we both climbed the tower and enjoyed the great views over the city. If you suffer from a fear of heights then this is not the place for you, but I felt elated once I reached the top and I am glad that my lovely lady and I got to experience this for ourselves.
During a recent visit to my parents, my lovely lady and I enjoyed visiting Basildon Park (pictured above) which is located near Goring and Streatley in Berkshire. Film aficionados might recognise the house from the film adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" featuring Keira Knightley and there is a whole room devoted to the making of the film. It was amazing to think that a number of the historical artefact's had to be removed prior to filming, but this is not surprising due to the fact that some of these items are irreplaceable. We enjoyed visiting this lovely house and I chuckle to myself thinking about how I used to find these places rather boring. Needless to say my position has completely changed and I am glad that organisations such as the National Trust and English Heritage have preserved our historical buildings for future generations to enjoy.
Surrounded by well maintained gardens it also boasts a large lake, caves, Greek style temple and waterfalls. My lovely lady and I really enjoyed our day out there and I recommend it as a great place to visit. One thing that is also a major plus point is the fact that it is really easy to find as it is clearly signposted all the way from the M4 motorway. This is unusual as this isn't always the case with historic buildings and it was refreshing to not have to rely on our satnav system for a change.